Anyone’s who’s ever been prescribed medication knows the hassle of keeping track of your doses. The problem is particularly acute for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. Whether you’re the patient or you’re helping someone else—a parent or grandparent, for instance—keep track of their medications, the $199 PillDrill could be a lifesaver.
The PillDrill system consists of the PillDrill Hub, the Pill Strip, scanning tags, and a wellness tracker dubbed the Mood Cube. There’s also a smartphone app, but it’s not required to use the system. The patient or caregiver either places a scan tag on each bottle of medication, or puts individual doses into pods—which already have tags—in the Pill Strip. The Pill Strip looks very much like the pill organizers the pharmacy sells. The system comes with two, for AM and PM doses, but you can snap together as many Pill Strips as needed to fit your routine.
The PillDrill Hub, which is about the size of an iPhone 6, connects to your Wi-Fi network. It runs on AC power, but has a battery backup. The hub produces audio-visual alerts when your doses are due. “Most alarms go off whether they’re needed or not,” PillDrill inventor Peter Havas said in an interview last week. “You don’t need to be reminded if you’ve already taken your pills, so the PillDrill eliminates a large annoyance factor.”
After you consume your dose, you simply wave the pod or the tagged pill bottle over the hub and it will record that you’ve taken your medicine. You can use the Mood Cube—which has five faces: Great, Good, OK, Bad, and Awful—to track how you’re responding to your medication. This feature can be particularly useful when your doctor changes your dose.
The PillDrill app syncs with the hub and will generate reminders and track doses while you’re on the go. One PillDrill Hub can accommodate the needs of more than one user, and the app can track more than one Hub. If you use the PillDrill to help manage someone else’s healthcare, you can use the app and a web account to set up the hub remotely. The hub will send you updates throughout the day to let you know if the person you’re caring for has taken their medication according to schedule. The person can also let you know how they feel at any time by waving the Mood Cube in front of the hub.
“The Mood Cube is child-like, but not childish,” Havas said. “If you’re caring for someone, you’ll know when the person was awake, how they’re feeling, and when they’ve missed a dose. You won’t need to waste time when you communicate with the person you’re caring for by asking how they’re feeling and if they’ve taken their medicine. It avoids the spiral of negativity that can emerge in these situations.”
The PillDrill Kit—consisting of the hub, 12 scanning tags, two pill strips, and the Mood Cube—is available now for the introductory price of $199. Havas said PillDrill also plans to introduce tracking tags that can be attached to other types of objects, such as neti pot or an insulin pen, and another cube for recording symptoms.
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Michael is TechHive's lead editor. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab when reviewing new products. Following a relocation, he is in the process of converting his new home, an 1890 bungalow, into a modern smart home.